Growing up, my parents instilled in me a key survival tactic: don’t throw anything away if it’s perfectly fine. Also, as a Canadian, we’re taught from a very young age to be environmental warriors: reduce, reuse, recycle (emphasis on the first two). Suffice it to say, the way I was nurtured has essentially taught me to become a hoarder.
Given two napkins and I only used one? I can save the other napkin for later.
The other side of a letter is blank? I can use it as scrap paper.
I have to admit, this habit is useful when I spill something or need to write down a quick note. However, what often ends up happening is I have piles of garbage everywhere except the garbage can (or recyclables everywhere except the recycling bin – #planet).
Thankfully, as someone who has – let’s call it – “minimalist tendencies,” I purge anything and everything that isn’t of value to me from time to time. I get into these trances where I throw one thing out… then another… then another, until eventually I’m left with a small fraction of what I started with. I don’t just do this with physical things. I’ve also done this with apps on my phone, photos and documents on my computer.
I’ve seen videos and read about actual minimalists who keep all of their earthly possessions under a certain amount. From clothes to kitchen utensils, they somehow maintain a total of 100 items or less. There’s also the popular book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo engendering armies of pseudo-minimalists. These people take reducing to an extreme that I’m not sure I’m ready for or capable of (refer to first paragraph about how I was raised). I’m perfectly content with “minimalist tendencies” and it’s something I think other young professionals can benefit from.
I’m definitely not saying you should rid yourself of everything you have in sight. Instead, take a good look at what actually adds value to your life – clothes, documents, heck, even relationships. Then, minimalize your life (it’s a real word)! It’s a liberating experience when you can more clearly see the things that matter to you. It makes you appreciate them that much more.
I’ve done a fair bit of “minimalizing” recently. In fact, I’ve done something that I like to call the “Phoenix method”. In this method, like a Phoenix, I burned everything down (metaphorically) and started anew – more into this in a future blog post.
Hey, it is 2017 after all. New year, new me.